Thursday, October 20, 2016

da:ns 2016 :: Pina Bausch's 'Nelken'

This year I didn't see anything that's a 'must-watch' at the Esplanade's da:ns festival. Maybe one upcoming performance. All other tickets were bought at the last minute. At the friends' urging, I joined them at Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch's 1982 'Nelken' (German for 'carnations'). Indeed, the stage was a dense field of carnations pink and red, and the dancers weaved among them, effectively trampling the flowers.

While contemporary dance theatre isn't terribly new as a form of expressionist styles, it was rather ground-breaking as tanztheater in the 1970s, during era of choreographer/artistic director and dancer, the late legendary Pina Bausch (1940 - 2009). I'm lucky to have seen some of her works in London, as well as 'Nelken' when it had a larger cast before the esteemed choreographer passed away so suddenly from lung cancer. But I was so young then; it's a treat to watch this production in Singapore now, post-Pina Bausch.

We're free to interpret 'Nelken' however we want. There're the familiar themes of self, the struggle for individual identity among a group, authority versus natural playfulness, chaos versus orderliness, and holding on to happiness. Debunking stereotypes, basically. Pina Bausch pours heaps of emotions into her works, and asks the same of her dancers. This piece is no different. Quite pleased that I managed to eke out time to attend the performance. It would have been a shame to miss it. Pina Bausch is a trailblazer of her time, and also of this decade. Her works are original and as experimental as any other of the genre.

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